Figuring out the Chicago Bears’ confusing quarterback situation

Jul 29, 2021; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton (center) and quarterback Nick Foles (9) watch as quarterback Justin Fields passes during a Chicago Bears training camp session at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of us have been scratching our heads trying to understand the Chicago Bears quarterback situation. More people have lost their confidence in the Bears head coach Matt Nagy with every passing press conference. Despite trading up in the 2021 NFL draft to select Justin Fields, Nagy has hesitated to give the young prospect the keys to his offense. Instead, he started the season by putting Andy Dalton under center.

This all leaves one to question what his ultimate means are. Coming into the year, the Bears had mixed expectations. They did make the playoffs last year, but the team at large didn’t resemble a true contender. With that in mind, most thought it best for this season to be used as a developmental year for Justin Fields. Maybe the team wished to do just that, but in a different manner than the public envisioned.

Whatever the case, the direction they took appears to have only served to lead them astray. They have underperformed, and the coaching staff’s future seems quite bleak because of it. This article will outline the perspective used to survey the quarterback situation inside the Chicago Bears organization. With any luck, maybe we can make sense out of this apparent mess.

Why not start Justin Fields right away?

Sep 19, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs off the field after their 20-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

The main gripe that people have had with the Bears concerns their handling of Justin Fields. Namely, why they didn’t make him their starting quarterback right away. Now, I can’t provide the actual answer to that. However, there may still be a theory to the madness. Weeks ago, David Carr spoke about the matter and came to the defense of the Bears’ original decision to start Andy Dalton.

“Do we want to put Justin Fields behind the Bears offensive line that I’ve watched the last three weeks? Absolutely not. I’ve been in that situation.”

David Carr

No matter where you stand on the discussion, you have to give credence to Carr’s view. After all, Fields did go down to nine sacks in his first NFL start in week three against the Cleveland Browns. He may be their best bet to win games, but his long-term health ought to garner much more consideration at this time.

The Bears have one of the worst O-lines in the NFL. Pro Football Focus ranked them 28th overall before the season began. It’s a hallmark among the NFL’s elite to boast a capable offensive line. Without the requisite protection, the quarterback would have little time to throw. In addition, receivers wouldn’t get open fast enough, and the running backs would struggle to carry the ball past the line of scrimmage. In turn, this makes everyone on the team look worse than they may really be.

Why potentially jeopardize a young prospect by putting him in as volatile a situation as this? While Andy Dalton may not perform at a higher level in such a spot, it does at the very least give Chicago a chance to assess and remedy the situation to complement Fields in the future.

A matter of perspective

Jan 9, 2018; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace (L) and head coach Matt Nagy (R) pose for a picture during the press conference at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

All the talk surrounding the situation suggests that Matt Nagy is sitting firmly on the hot seat, or at least that he should be. Though Chicago has made the postseason in two of the last three years, the offense has not played well. While some would put that on Mitchell Trubisky, the Bears’ former starting QB, others have looked towards Nagy expecting more. He’s made progress, but the results have varied.

With Justin Fields coming along, you’d think he’d move to play him as soon as possible. However, there are two plausible theories to note as to why he didn’t. First, the offensive line’s poor performance. As previously mentioned, Chicago’s O-Line doesn’t stack up against the better defenses in the league. Putting the rookie out there leaves him susceptible to injury.

Secondly, the Bears may have thought it best to let Fields take a year before starting. After all, Matt Nagy came over from a situation in Kansas City where they sat Patrick Mahomes in his rookie season behind former starter Alex Smith. It worked out pretty well for them. While those Chiefs were different from today’s Bears, the possibility remains that this strategy yielded fruitful results that we cannot detect. Some don’t see that approach as a beneficial one. In their eyes, either the guy has it, or he doesn’t. Sitting him for however long won’t alter the end result.

Since Andy Dalton has gotten injured, Fields has stepped in. How Chicago goes about it from here will tell us a lot. The Ohio State product came in slated to become the starter eventually. Now that he has, we figure that he’ll keep that spot moving forward. It all depends on how the Bears view the situation.

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